Faith and politics: A Brazilian theologian speaks out
Brazilian theologian Dr Paulo Ueti urges people of faith to keep working for equality.
Dr Ueti is the Regional Facilitator for the Latin American and the Caribbean Anglican Alliance, which brings together the development, relief and advocacy work of the Anglican family in this part of the world.
Recent economic growth has made Brazil one of the world’s top 10 economies. But while the mega-rich thrive, the desperately poor struggle to survive.
As with other countries, economic progress alone isn’t enough to lift the poorest out of poverty.
Indeed, Brazil remains one of the world’s most unequal countries – some 16 million people live in abject poverty, and there is considerable violence, intolerance, racism and segregation.
The mission of God must tackle inequality, both by helping to increase income for the poor and by addressing the structural causes of poverty – such as taxation systems, land and income distribution, and systematic discrimination, especially the targeting of afro-descendants, the landless, small-scale farmers, indigenous communities, women, LGBTT and young people.
The Bible offers hope to the poor
When the Bible first came to Brazil, about 500 hundred years ago, it came as a sword and an instrument for violence and oppression.
But in time it became a book that brings hope and strength to the most vulnerable. It promises the possibility of change.
When the poor started reading and interpreting the Bible by themselves, the good news started to become a reality and a movement for justice. The poor realised that all humans are made in the image of God and loved by him.
Mission means building relationships and challenging oppression
Religion is a word derived from the Latin word re-ligare, meaning to re-connect, link, network or build a sharing community.
This is the mission of the church: to build community and strengthen relationships, to challenge the power of oppression, and to abide in Jesus to express the love of God to everybody everywhere.
To be a Christian means being committed to justice and love. Like God, when we are betrayed, we keep loving (Hosea 11:1-11). We are motivated to reach out to strangers, with time, money and other resources (Luke 10). We defy patriarchal and inhuman structures (Galatians 3:26-28). We move out of our comfort zones to face the conflicts and to be peacemakers and activists of the liberation (Matthew 10).
Love moves us and challenges us. It holds us together and brings us out of ourselves.
As Anglicans we are invited to keep reminding our communities of the Five Marks of Mission as our programme for revealing the kingdom.
May love guide our reading of the Bible, so that we may endeavour to be a community that is committed to justice and care for the vulnerable.